PM 'probably' won't sue over Hager book

Prime Minister John Key says he "probably" won't take any further action about claims in Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics that senior Cabinet Minister Judith Collin leaked sensitive information to right wing blogger Cameron Slater.

Mr Key today continued to dismiss Hager's book - which claims complicity between his staff, ministers and right wing bloggers in a covert dirty tricks strategy - repeatedly saying it was the work of "a left wing conspiracy theorist who wants to smear the Government".

Hager this morning told the Herald the "nastiest" behaviour by a minister in his book was Ms Collins giving her friend Slater the identity of an official she believed was responsible for leaking information about Finance Minister Bill English's taxpayer funded accommodation allowance in 2009.

In the book he says then-Police Minister Ms Collins' suspicion that Ministerial Services official Simon Pleasants had told Labour what they should request under the Official Information Act in order to embarrass the Government was "almost certainly unfounded".

The book quotes directly from an email from Ms Collins to Slater in which she names former Labour staffer Mr Pleasants.

Slater went on to identify Mr Pleasants in a series of disparaging blog posts on his Whaleoil site leading to a torrent of abuse directed towards him.

Asked about that claim this morning, Mr Key said: "I'm not going to go into all of the details. I'm not going to dignify much in the book now. In the end people can draw their own conclusions." He said he was unlikely to take further action over that claim and others including that Ms Collins discussed then-undisclosed details of the 2011 Bronwyn Pullar ACC privacy breach with Slater.

"She's utterly refuted them so unless I've got a good reason probably not.", Mr Key said.

Ms Collins this morning said Hager's book was "full of lies."

"It's a real smear campaign and I'm quite disgusted with it," she told TVNZ's Breakfast.

Labour MP Grant Robertson said Ms Collins needed to respond to the specific allegations made in the book.

"For instance did she have a conversation with Cameron later about release of confidential ACC emails?"

Ms Collins' response was that a Privacy Commission investigation had cleared her of leaking to the media Ms Pullar's identity and a key email about the affair.

But Mr Robertson said whether not Ms Collins was involved in that leak "she was giving him (Slater) information about the case."

Hager's book - based on thousands of messages between Slater, National Party spin doctor Jason Ede and others - claims Mr Ede ran Mr Key's dirty tricks operations which were kept at arms' length from the Prime Minister to avoid damaging his image.

- By Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

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